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Dinesh D'Souza Indicted for Illegal Campaign Donations

(UPDATED) Former King's College president may have illegally contributed to Senate campaign. Free Dinesh movement launched.
Dinesh D'Souza Indicted for Illegal Campaign Donations
Image: Dineshdsouza.com
Dinesh D'Souza at a recent panel discussion.

Best-selling author, documentary filmmaker, and former Christian college president Dinesh D'Souza was indicted today (Thursday, Jan. 23) by federal officials for alleged criminal violation of campaign finance laws.

Reuters reports:

According to an indictment made public on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, D'Souza around August 2012 reimbursed people who he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate's campaign. The candidate was not named in the indictment.

D'Souza linked on his Facebook page to The Hollywood Reporter's account of his indictment, in which his co-producer Gerald Molen defends him and released a statement noting:

We believe this is an unfortunate misunderstanding arising out of Dinesh D'Souza's desire to help the uphill campaign of a friend. There was no intent to do anything illegal or corrupt in any way.

In the indictment, made available by The New York Times, D'Souza was charged both with making false statements to federal officials and using others to make campaign contributions and then reimbursing those individuals.

Today (Jan. 24) in New York, D'Souza pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment. Bail was set at $500,000 and he was released after agreeing to have someone sign a "personal recognizance bond." The next court date is scheduled for March 4. He was required to surrender his passport.

Under federal campaign finance law, individuals are limited to contributing $5000 per candidate per election cycle. If convicted on both charges, D'Souza would face spending several years in a federal prison.

According to media reports, his attorney has denied the charges, and there is speculation that the contributions in question were to Wendy Long, a personal friend who was the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. Incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won the election.

In late 2012, D'Souza resigned as president of The King's College, an evangelical college in lower Manhattan. At the time, he was caught up in a personal scandal in which he was engaged to be married, but had yet to finalize his divorce. At the time, his resignation prompted an outpouring of commentary about fallen Christian leaders.

According to a press release, the U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara (an Obama appointee), in a statement released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, "As we have long said, this Office and the FBI take a zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process."

D'Souza gained acclaim and criticism for his book and documentary film, 2016: Obama's America. The film imagines what the United States would look like at the end of President Obama's second term. It is one of the highest-grossing political documentary films. (Brett McCracken's CT review is here.)

In July 2013, The King's College announced that school trustees had selected Gregory Thornbury as its next president. Thornbury previously served as dean of the School of Theology at Union University in Tennessee.

On January 30 at Dartmouth College, D'Souza is scheduled to debate liberal activist Bill Ayers in an event billed as "The Ultimate Fight Between Left and Right." A follow-up film to 2016 called America is due to release July 4.

Today, ardent supporters of D'Souza launched an online campaign, Free Dinesh, on Facebook. They allege that the court case is a political payback by the Obama administration for 2016.

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